During my stay in Amsterdam, I wanted to take a day trip somewhere, but I didn’t know where. Originally I was thinking maybe in the countryside in the Netherlands. A few months before my trip, I was scrolling through tik tok and saw a video that made me what to go to Paris instantly. At first, it was a joke. “How funny would it be if I went to Paris because of a tik tok”, but it actually came true. Here is a Paris day trip Itinerary that I came up and used during my trip, and I hope it can help you plan your own trip! Feel free to change anything to your likings. This is purely just a report on what I did, and what worked. Also keep in that I was a student is everything is in a budget to make sure I didn’t use too much money.
8:15am – Train to Paris from Amsterdam Centraal
For a Paris day trip Itinerary, train will be our main way of transportation . The journey starts from Amsterdam Centraal, the metro exit is a different building from the entrance for Thalys, so be sure to get there early to avoid confusion. We decided to go for the 8:15am departure train since we didn’t want to wake up too early, but still arrive in Paris before 12pm. To enter the gates to Amsterdam Centraal, use the barcode on your ticket (can be scanned from your phone) to enter or leave the station. There’s even a little convenience store right next to the entrance to buy some snacks for the long train ride. We bought some bread the night before from a supermarket near our airbnb to munch on.
Thalys has a special youth fare, in which anyone under the age of 26 can get a roundtrip tickets from Amsterdam to Paris (70 euros for a round trip). The train ride is 3 hours and 20 minutes, but didn’t feel like it was since you can enjoy the European countryside from the windows. The seats were very comfy with plenty of space and a cupboard in front for eating, as well as onboard wifi, and electric sockets. The seats are all 2 seaters so its perfect for 2 or 4 people. You are also allowed 2 items of luggage (max 75x53x30cm), 1 item of hand luggage per person. During the ride, the train passes by two stops in Belgium, and it was really cool to be able to see the city from the window.
The most important thing is to be sure to book in advance. I booked in late November for a trip in mid-January, and a lot of the days were already sold out. I recommend booking more than 3 months in advance to secure a good day. The prices are always going to be 35 euros one way for the youth fare. After buying the tickets, they automatically give you the seats.
The train will move exactly at the time stated on your ticket so be careful! Thalys passengers are required to be present on the platform and ready for boarding no later than two minutes before the train departure time. If they aren’t, they may be refused access to the train, and the train will leave without you. To board, you need to find your cart number on your ticket and find the entrance to the cart. A staff member will check your ticket and let you in. Once inside, later in the journey, a train conductor will come by to check your tickets again.
11:25am – Arrive in Paris Nord
Getting off the train was very speedy, and takes maybe less than 3 minutes to be off the train and outside the station. After exiting the station, we headed for the metro to get to Louvre. It’s not a Paris day trip Itinerary without the Louvre. The Thalys exit is about a 5 minute walk to the metro. We got on line 4, from the Gare du Nord station, and got off Palais Royal Musée du Louvre. For only €1.90 you can travel everywhere in Paris main ring (which is all our stops). Did you know if you buy a 10-pack, you pay only €1.49 per ticket? You won’t be needing 10 for this paris day trip Itinerary, (we only used it 3 times) but it’s useful to know in case you have a large group, or longer trip. It took us a little while to figure out how to buy a ticket, so be prepared to spend a little time trying to adjust and buying tickets. The kiosks to buy the tickets also may be crowded and you may have to wait a little bit.
The metro ride is only around 15 minutes, and we arrived in the area around the Lourve at 12pm. Since we bought bought admission for 1:30pm and took the extra time to buy snacks and taking photos around the Lourve. If you want more time in the library, be sure to reserve for the 12:30 time slot. I also bought souvenirs during this extra time, and I just wished I bought more souvenirs because we got so much busier later and didn’t have to much time to stop by a store later.
1:30PM – Enter the Lourve
We booked our tickets 2 days in advance. It’s very important to do this because, with this ticket, you don’t have to wait for hours to get in. People who don’t buy their tickets in advance usually have to wait hours outside just to get in. With my advanced tickets, all I did was show my ticket to a staff, and they let me in instantly. The only part that took time was the security check, but that took less than 5 minutes. Online tickets are 17.00€ and when booking you are allowed to pick a 30 minute slot for you to enter during that time. The link to buy tickets to the Lourve.
A cool thing to know is that National museums (such as the Louvre, the Musée d’Orsay, etc.) are free for all persons under 26 from the European Union. Proof of identity is required (passport or EU identity card). My friend is from the Netherlands, so she was able to get in without paying anything. The only downside to this is that a lot of people are also in this category, so EU residents have to wait a little bit before entering, maybe around 10 minutes, but for free entry, who can complain.
While waiting for my friend to enter, I was able to walk around the lobby and get a map to the museum. This is a great time to plan ahead and grabbing a snack from the museum’s cafe. I had the best croissant in my life here. I also noticed while walking around that there were multiple entrances within getting inside of the pyramid. Each entrance goes into a different exhibit and section, and to enter your ticket is needed again. It is important to plan which entrance to enter because the museum its self is so huge and so easy to get lost! Even though we had a map, we still were constantly lost and there were multiple occasions in which we didn’t know where we were. Take the time to look at the online map before hands to plan ahead!
One thing that we knew we wanted to see was the Mona Lisa, and since this is their main attraction, there were signs all over the museum pointing to the painting for easy navigation. The area with Mona Lisa was very crowded and unless you want to wait on a line, it was impossible to get a front view. I was able to see it from a side view and that was fine for me. My favorite area was The Galerie d’Apollon / The French Crown Jewels hall. The whole area was so grand and is probably what the Palace of Versailles looks like.
Remember you have to watch out for the time. It is so easy to spend hours in this museum due to how big it is. At around 3 we started to head to the exit, but the exit was so far away from where we were, and we took about 10 minutes to get out. We just followed the signs that said SORTIE but it just seemed never-ending. We followed the sign up and down some levels and after going through multiple exhibits we were able to get out. There seems to be only one exit in this massive place so that was a little annoying. We entered through the pyramid but got out via a shopping mall. While walking towards the shopping mall, there are also a bunch of museum gift shops to buy some souvenirs. Everything was so expensive so I passed on it.
3:15 head out to Champs-Elysees
Our next stop on our Paris day trip Itinerary is the Champs-Elysees. We boarded the metro to Champs-Elysees at around 3:15 from the metro that was directly connected to the shopping mall that was attached to the Lourve’s exit. We wanted to walk down Champs-Elysees so we got off from a station a little far from arch de triumph, “Champs-Elysees – Concorde” Luckily, the day we went, the weather was perfect for walking. Even though it was mid-January, it wasn’t too cold.
Champs-Elysees has many high-end stores and restaurants and the wide street makes it easy to navigate around. When crossing the street to get to the other side of the road, be sure to look down the road to see the the arch de triumph straight on. I really wanted to try out a macaron during our stay so we passed by La Maison du Chocolat. I read reviews saying they were good, yet more affordable than the similar ones around the area, and it definitely didn’t disappoint! They also have a La Maison du Chocolat store in NYC and I was able to buy a few macarons after my trip and it tastes like the one from Paris! Now I know that I have a part of Paris in my city. If you want more well-known macarons, you can visit Laduree, which is said is where macarons were born. But due to how popular it is, the wait is always long, and a lot of people say that it is overpriced.
4PM – Go eat somewhere.
We got hungry but we were also on a budget, all the restaurants were all so expensive and were geared towards tourists (which is no big surprise). After walking up and down the streets we found a fast food chain, Quick Burger, a French and Belgian fast food chain. It is apparently the “Burger King of France”. Even though it was right next to Arc de Triumph, it surprisingly felt local, cause who’s going all the way to Paris and eating fast food. To order all you have to do is order through kiosks, which eliminates the need to talk to anyone.
Who would have thought that I would be in Paris for only a day and end up eating “American food”? I think the quality was much better than any American fast-food chain, and the bread was so crunchy and nice! They also have different options for the sauce for the fries and one of their most popular is the mayonnaise! Did you know Europeans eat fries with mayo?
Of course if you want to eat something else, go get something else! I don’t think everyone would want to eat a burger during their stay in Paris, but we just did it to save money and have a quick meal. Paris is known to be luxurious with many options for fine dining, so go pick out a fancy restaurant!
4:30pm – Go to Arch De Trumiph
We headed to the Arch De Triumph, which was so much bigger than expected. I don’t think much time is needed here unless you want to see the details on the structure. For us, 5 minutes was enough to check it out and take pictures. There are stairs to go down and go to the center of the arch, and if you book tickets in advance, you can even climb it! I saw pictures from others, but the view from on top of the Arch looked beautiful! If you have time, maybe see if you can climb it! But since we don’t have the whole day, after taking a bunch of photos we started to walk to the Eiffel Tower.
5PM – Arrive in Trocadéro Gardens
After about 20 minutes of walking, we arrived at Trocadéro Gardens. This area is a huge plaza and its very famous for taking photos and admiring the tower from a distance since there is nothing blocking the view. There were a lot of tourists here trying to take pictures as well and can be hard to find a nice location where people wouldn’t get into your photo.
I recommend taking a photo at the stairs going down towards the tower since there aren’t as many people to block your photo there. The key is to wait for the perfect timing to get the perfect photo. It also didn’t help that it was during sunset, and everyone wanted a nice background and snapping a lot of photos. After relaxing and looking around the area we headed to the base of the tower. The tower is across a bridge, and there is a lot of people so it takes a little more time than expected to get to the base. The bottom is also blocked by glass and you cannot walk directly under the tower anymore. It took us maybe around 10 minutes to get to the base from Trocadero Gardens.
5:30 At the base of the Eiffel Tower
Checking out the base of the Eiffel Tower is a must go for any Paris day trip Itinerary. We checked out the area around the base and took some pictures. Be aware of people who try to sell you goods, they come up to you to try to sell if you look like a tourist. They were not forceful at all though, considering I’m from NYC, it almost seemed like nothing. Once I told them no, they just walked away. I was surprised to find that during the time that I went, the area under the tower wasn’t that crowded, and not a lot of people were taking photos. There are also not many things around the area, but it is nice to see this beautiful structure up close. This may be different during summer or peak travel times though.
5:45 head back to Paris Nord.
Be sure to get back to Paris Nord earlier then what is needed for unexpected delays. You do not want to miss your train back to Amsterdam. It is usually a 20 minute ride from the tower to Paris Nord, so if you’r feeling risky, take your time, but it is not recommended. We headed to the metro station ‘Alma Marceau’ which is about a 10 minute walk from the base of the tower. Instead of walking straight from the tower to the bridge that we previously walked, we went on a different diagonal bridge and the walk was a different experience than walking to the tower. As we were walking back to the metro, we noticed that the view from the bridge was very beautiful, and while we were snapping photos it became 6:00pm. The tower lit up and started to sparkle. It is made up of 20,000 light bulbs (5,000 per side), and they bring the monument to life for 5 minutes every hour until 1 am. This sight was so breathtaking, and was definitely the cherry on top for our Paris day trip Itinerary. Make sure you don’t miss this light show!
It was a good thing that we decided to head back early because the traffic on the metro to Paris was INSANE! We were waiting on the platform for 20 minutes and not a single train came. Everyone was on the platform was squished and was visibly upset. I didn’t know the Paris metro can compete with NYC’s train delays. When the train finally came, we barely were able to get on. Thankfully, I’m shorter than most people so I didn’t have too many problems, but on the other hand, my friend was having a little bit of trouble squeezing in. That train ride was so messy and there were multiple times that locals would talk to me in French, and I had no idea what they were saying.
7:25pm – Paris Nord Train ride back to Amsterdam centraal.
Even though the train getting back to Paris Nord was messy, we arrived by the station at around 7pm, 25 minutes early for our train. There was a McDonalds right in front of the station for us to get some snacks and nuggets for the ride home. This McDonalds was surprising very nice and had so much variety of food that I didn’t expect, like macarons and cronuts! There were kiosks at the front of the store for easy ordering. You can scroll through the many different options and see how much everything is beforehand, so it was very easy to access! For the nuggets they had so many different sauces to choose from, so we got the curry sauce, which was amazing! It tasted like we were eating chicken curry! A nice little treat for the 3 hours and 20 minutes ride back. Be sure to get on the train at least 5 minutes before the departure time to find your seat and be comfortable!
10:44pm – Back in Amsterdam centraal
After 3 hours and 20 minutes of riding in the dark, we arrive back in Amsterdam Centraal! Sleep after a long day of traveling is one of the best feelings! Go back to your bed and take a nice rewarding sleep after completing your Paris day trip Itinerary.
Completed Paris day trip Itinerary
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